We’re Awful at E-waste Recycling
The rumors are true: we’re doing a terrible job as a nation at recycling our old electronics. Just 12% of our e-waste ends up in certified recycling facilities, according to the UN’s 2014 report. We’re not alone in this (unfortunately), as globally, many countries fare even worse—with Australia reporting just 1% of their e-waste as properly recycled.
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Just because we could be doing worse doesn’t mean we couldn’t be doing better. Countries in the EU are already recycling 40% of their e-waste, and China and Japan report up to 28% and 24%. We can—and should try to beat those numbers in the United States, particularly as we are among the world’s top producers of e-waste per capita.
Let’s move away from what we’re doing wrong, though, and turn our focus to parts of the country that are doing it right. Each state has its own regulations, and some areas are doing a better job than others about making sure e-waste doesn’t end up in the landfill. So where are we making strides in recycling electronics? Individual cities, for the most part.
Cities With Awesome E-waste Recycling Programs
New York may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think about recycling, but they’re trying to change that. Starting at the beginning of the year, it became illegal for residents to throw away electronics, and the city now offers a free service—e-cycleNYC as an alternative.
Inconvenience is one of the top reasons people don’t recycle their old electronics. The city of Sunnyvale is challenging that excuse by offering an on-call pickup services that each residence can take advantage of twice a year. The program is pretty generous—allowing for two cubic yards of e-waste or certain other items to be collected for recycling. On top of this allowance, the city will also pick up two “bulky items”, like appliances or mattresses. All residents need to do is schedule an appointment by 2 PM the day before their normal trash pickup day.
The EPA is working to clean up the border with its Border 2020 project. The US-Mexico border has become littered with mass amounts of trash and e-waste from improper disposal over the years. The goals for the project emphasize electronics, cars, and other waste that can be sustainably recycled to help clean up the region.
What is Your City Doing About E-waste Recycling?
As e-waste awareness spreads, more cities are taking the initiative to provide programs for collecting e-waste. If you’re interested in helping encourage better participation in e-cycling, it’s worth checking out your city’s policies (if they have one), and seeing if legislators are interested in jumping on-board with the movement.
Small Steps Toward a Greener Planet
Once upon a time, recycling of any materials was almost unheard of, and today, there are glass, paper, and plastic collection bins on every street corner. Getting to that point with e-waste will be a struggle, but it’s a necessary struggle as the global e-waste crisis becomes more and more urgent, and we begin to run out of the natural resources necessary to create new devices.
Communities, companies, and individuals pave the way for greater awareness of e-waste recycling, and you can do your part by making sure you and your company’s electronics don’t end up in a landfill. At ICT, we’re passionate about re-purposing and recycling as much e-waste as possible, and our goal is to educate companies on the importance of compliant e-waste disposal. We’d love to hear how you and your community are contributing to the cause in the comments!
At ICT, we’re all for anything that keeps electronics out of landfills. That’s why we tailor our electronics recycling solutions to fit each company’s unique needs.
Susannah Bruck is a freelance blogger, editor, and ghostwriter. She has been putting her skills to use for clients since 2010, and enjoys working on formats ranging from blog posts to short stories and plays. You can find her at World Adventures